Scared to take Citalopram after negative reaction to Sertraline

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I have been diagnosed with anxiety and agoraphobia, along with depression. I've started low intensity CBT with the local talking therapies team which I am finding to be of little help and so the doctor had prescribed 50mg Sertraline.

I Took the first tablet first thing the following morning and got several negative side effects throughout the day, but tried to push on through it. It was unpleasant but I managed right up until night. Shortly before going to bed I felt completely spaced out, out of control, and then a little later full of suicidal thoughts. I had never felt truly suicidal before and this was a very scary experience for me. Obviously, I didn't take any more of this, but it took 3 days to get back to normal and have it properly out of my system.

Saw my GP again who didn't sound surprised, and offered me sleeping tablets to deal with the feelings, agitation and frustration I had at night. I declined, not wanting to really take more of the medication that left me in that state, and especially not to combat what were now in my mind as bad drugs, with more (unnecessary) drugs.

She now prescribed citalopram 10mg tablets. I've been told to take half (so 5mg) the first day or two if I want to ease myself in slowly, and then after around a week or so to up the dose, taking 2 tablets daily to put me on 20mg, which she will then give me 20mg tablets on repeat prescription in future.

Citalopram is another SSRI, and from what I can tell, not very different at all to sertaline. Obviously I am terrified to take it after what that did to me, and feel like even if I take 5mg - which I know is a very small dose, that if I have an adverse reaction again it has such a long half life and I just have to suffer that hell again for a few days to get over it.

I Truly do want to get better and know that I need to take medication to do so, but is another SSRI really the answer rather than trying something else? Is there anyone else who has had a similar reaction to one that can say they either had the same reaction to the other, or even better to say they had the same reaction to one, but another actually worked really well?

Finally, is there any advice to help me get through this? Assuming this stuff doesn't leave me feeling like I am having a battle with my body to even stay alive, I have read enough to know that the first few days to a week or so are quite unpleasant, so it would be nice to know any tips to help make it a little easier on me if there is anything like that to help at all.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!

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4 Replies

  • Posted

    Citalopram are better than Sertraline tbh.

    They're the same family yes.

    You could request a completely different pill?

    I was taken off Citalopram as they found patients on over 30mgs a day where getting heart problems and I had a silent heart attack.

    I'm on 150mgs now if Sertraline but I prefer 200mgs tbh.

    I think Citalopram definitely worked better for me.

    Good luck!

  • Posted

    TBH 50mg Sertraline is the most gentle antidepressant regime availiable and I would have recommended you stay on that. Things getting worse before they get better is a commen complaint with SSRIs.

    20mg Citalopram is a much stronger regime.

    As for other classes of drugs - the SSRIs are the nicest. Stronger things scare GPs and are usually left to Psychs to prescribe.

  • Posted

    I can understand your concern.  I am actually weaning off citalopram after 8 years because it is no longer effective.  I was on 40 mg and weaned down to 15mg which caused me severe anxiety and depression. I am currently consulting with a naturopathic physician who has me on 5htp (converts into tryptophan for serotonin), ashwagandha (for anxiety). GABA (supports the adrenals) and other regular vitamins.  The 5htp really stopped all my depression (it took about 1 week) and I feel normal again, the ashwagandha as well has nipped most of the anxiety ( I get a pang of anxiety every now and then but it doesn't last long) .  If you're interesting in reading this doctor's book is called "Put anxiety behind you" by Dr. Peter Bongiorno.  He has written 6 books all on the subject of anxiety and how to treat it without medication.  Like I said, I'm still on citalopram 15mg.  my plan is to completely taper off and do this naturally.  Because I'm seeing that the 5htp & ashwagandha has really helped my mood, depression, and anxiety I think going the natural route is going to work for me.  I hope you are able to get rid of the anxiety and the depression with the citalopram but for me it didn't end up being the answer.  

  • Posted

    Citalopram supposedly has fewer common side effects than Zoloft [Sertraline] so you may fair better taking that instead. 

    My doctor wanted me to start on 20mg Citalopram but as someone new to uncontrolled anxiety and SSRI's, I listened to the pharmacist and started on 10mg instead to get use to the nausea.

    I took 10mg the first couple of nights before bed and the side effects appeared mostly during the night [lack of motivation/appetite appeared during the day]. 

    Nights 3 and 4 I took 20mg and encountered slight chest tightness and brief suicidal thoughts/nigthmares which I had never encountered before either [and was very scary for me as well], so I dropped back down to 10mg the next night and have stayed there since.

    The "nasty" side effects subsided at the end of the 1st week with lack of appetite/motivation sticking around until the end of week 2.  By week 3, I was "normal" with my baseline mood above neutral and anxiety mostly under control.

    When I had a 1 month checkup with my doctor - he said it was OK if I stayed at 10mg even though he did say I'd need to take 20mg as that's the Therapeutic dose.  Ultimately - I'm making the "healthier" choice with regards to my body and the side effects - 10mg so far has worked to help keep anxiety mostly under control. 


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